Bedford Park is a
residential neighborhood in the northwest Bronx between the
Botanical Garden and Lehman College.
Its boundaries, starting from the north and
moving clockwise are: Mosholu
to the north, Webster Avenue to the east, East 198th
Street to the south, and Jerome Avenue to the west. The Grand
Concourse is the primary thoroughfare through Bedford
The local subway is the IND Concourse Line
, operating along the
Grand Concourse. Zip codes include 10458 and 10468. The area is patrolled
by the 52nd Precinct located at 3016 Webster Ave in the Norwood section of the Bronx.
The area now known as Bedford Park was mostly farmland outside the
town of Kingsbridge
, then an
unincorporated suburb of New York City. The area began to be
developed with the construction of the Jerome Park Racecourse, for
thoroughbred horse racing
by Leonard Jerome
and August Belmont, Sr.
in 1866. Jerome Park
Racecourse became the first home of the famous Belmont Stakes
horse race, until 1890. To
attract the wealthy to the racecourse, Leonard Jerome built what is
today Jerome Avenue. In 1874 the town of Kingsbridge was officially
incorporated into New York City.
In 1890, Jerome Park Racecourse was sold. Construction was started
to convert it into the Jerome Park Reservoir, to store fresh water
from the New Croton Aqueduct. At the same time, the neighborhood of
Bedford Park was beginning to take shape. Forty "villas" (suburban
houses) were built on a stretch, in a planned community, named
The area became a part of the newly created Borough of the Bronx in
1898. The Italian and Irish immigrants who worked on the Jerome
Park Reservoir project soon anchored the community there. In 1906,
200th Street was renamed Bedford Park Boulevard, likely named after
Edward Thomas Bedford, a director of Standard Oil
, president of the Bank of the
State of New York, who was an associate of Leonard Jerome.
Development continued with the completion of
Concourse, a multilane thoroughfare, in 1914; and the
extension of subway to the area with the IRT Jerome Avenue Line in
1917. The Grand Concourse saw a boom in housing construction in the
post-World War I era.
this was from middle-class (primarily Jews, Italians, and Irish) moving from Manhattan.
Land use and terrain
Bedford Park is dominated by 5 or 6-story tenements and three-story
Victorian houses. The apartments on the Grand Concourse are often
taller. Tracey Towers are two 41-story subsidized apartment
buildings built close to the Jerome Park Reservoir. Designed by
noted architect Paul Rudolph
, they were
completed in 1972 as a part of New York City's Mitchell Lama
housing development initiative.
The total land area is a little less than half a square mile.
In the United States 2000
of 2000, the area of Bedford Park comprises five
. These five tracts have a
population of 24,874.
makeup of the neighborhood is 60.67% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race, 13.5%, African American, 17.07%
White, and 8.76% from other
races including Korean, and Indian
Houses of worship
Church of St. Philip Neri
Bedford Park's oldest buildings are its churches and other
religious institutions. The oldest church in the area, Bedford Park
Congregational Church at the corner of Bainbridge Avenue and East
201st Street, dates to 1882. Its American Queen
design hints at Bedford Park's origins as a small
rural community. It was designated a City Landmark in 2000. (New
York City Landmarks Commission 2005)
On the Grand Concourse lies the Roman Catholic Church of St. Philip
Neri. The church was dedicated to the Italian saint due to its
origin as a mission church for immigrant Italian laborers, who also
worked on the construction of the Jerome Park Reservoir. The corner
stone of the church (dated 1889) was in fact quarried from what
became Jerome Park Reservoir, and brought there by a horse-drawn
carriage. (Greene 2002)
The Convent of Mount St. Ursula is located on Bedford Park
Boulevard. It was established by a group of Roman Catholic nuns
from the Ursuline
order in 1892. The
Academy of Mt. St. Ursula, an all-girls prep-school, is located
there today. It recently celebrated its 150th anniversary with the
class of 2005.
The Educational Mile
Since 1892, the Academy of Mount Saint Ursula has been located at
Bedford Park and Bainbridge Avenue. The academy is now the oldest,
all female Catholic school in New York state. In the 1930s,
unclaimed land near the Jerome Park Reservoir offered opportunities
for New Deal
-related construction to
. Three high schools
(Walton, DeWitt Clinton, and the Bronx High
School of Science) were built, along with the Bronx campus of
College (now Lehman College).
After end of World
, in 1946 Hunter College's Bronx Campus served briefly as
host of the United Nations
two of the nine specialized high schools in New York City are in
the area, which includes Bronx High School of Science and the High School of
American Studies at Lehman College.
There was also a
small private high school Bedford Park Academy.
Movie industry in the neighborhood
In the 1940s, at the address of 248, 200th street which is Bedford
Park Blvd. was the home of some of the motion picture industries
famous actors and actresses. They would be on call for appeaances
at the Edison studio on Decatur Ave. between Oliver place and 199th
St. A call would be made to the actor at the above address and a
limo or cab would be sent around to pick them up and drop them off
at the studio. One of the pictures made was with Ava Gardner others
like St. Benny the Dip with Dick Haymes, Rollan Young, Lionel
Stander, Nina Foch and Freddie Bartholomew. Ehtel Waters played in
a tv series named Beulah in 1950, Later in the 50s, Ralph Bellamy
starred in the drama Man Against Crime on the Dumont Television
Network; the program lasted until 1956. In the 60s a program named
the hunter aired it was also filmed locally. It was great for a kid
growing up there to meet the actors and watch the productions.
Lehman College was originally Hunter College's uptown campus.
The Works Progress Administration
built the original four buildings of the campus in grey stone in
the Collegiate Gothic
finials, turrets, and other decorative features. Additional
buildings, including the Lehman Library and Center for the
Performing Arts, were added in the style of modern architecture
. The newest
building, the APEX, has facilities for athletics and dance.
scenic campus, which spans into Kingsbridge, has been used as a shooting location for episodes
of the television series Law &
Order and its spin-offs.
Reflecting a population so greatly composed of foreign-born
immigrants, there are distinct ethnic enclaves in Bedford Park.
Street, between the Grand Concourse and Mosholu Parkway
lies a small cluster of Korean restaurants, groceries, social
clubs, and other businesses.
Bedford Park's ethnic diversity manifests itself in an assortment
of ways besides the formation of enclaves. Among the national
symbols one may see strolling the neighborhood include the double-headed eagle (the emblem of Albania), the icon of Our Lady of
Guadalupe (sacred to Catholic Mexicans), the shamrock of Ireland, the Arabic calligraphy of the shahadah (the Muslim profession of faith), or the
coquí of Puerto Rico. A vast assortment of
newspapers are sold in local convenience stores, including The
Echo of Ireland, Albanian-language Bota Sot of
Kosovo, and the
Spanish-language local newspapers El Diario/La Prensa, and El
Residents of Bedford Park appreciate their quality of life. The
neighborhood's accessibility, coupled with affordable housing,
diversity and a strong sense of community, makes this Bedford Park
a popular destination for those looking to escape the hustle and